Friday, October 10, 2014

My #1 Tip for Undecided Students

My executive director recently left a gift on everyone’s desk. Who doesn’t love spontaneous gifts, right?  It was a copy of the New York Time’s bestseller “Steal Like an Artist.”  It’s a little book, quick read and very visual.  As a busy woman, it was my kind of book! There were so many little gems of advice that I found myself nodding along in agreement with each page I turned. The author, Austin Kleon, proves you don’t have to write a lot to say a lot. 

The book gives 10 tips about how to be creative. I love them all, but one resonated with me because of my role as a career counselor. Tip #5 is “side projects and hobbies are important.” I tell this to students in appointments all the time. When students come in saying things like “I feel lost,” “I feel so undecided about my future,” or “I need to chose a major but I don’t know how,” I start to ask them about the things they do for fun.  I ask them about their hobbies, their passions.  Inevitably after I ask that question, they will follow up with something like  “I like _____ but don’t know how to make a career of that.”

This is where Kleon gave me the “aha moment.”  He advises that we don’t need to worry about connecting the dots in our life as they happen.  In fact, we should do a few things that we love no matter if they seem connected or not, relevant or not, even purposeful or not.  He says, “Don’t throw any of yourself away.  Don’t worry about a grand scheme or unified vision for your work […] what unifies your work is the fact that you made it.  One day, you’ll look back and it will all make sense.”

So, I am going to “steal like an artist,” and give you some of my best advice with some help from Kleon.  If you want to choose a major or your career, keep those hobbies.  Find time for your side projects.  It might not make sense going forward but it will all make sense looking back.  

Deanna Rodin, Associate Director

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